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Deuteronomy 28:25-68

Context
Curses by Defeat and Deportation

28:25 “The Lord will allow you to be struck down before your enemies; you will attack them from one direction but flee from them in seven directions and will become an object of terror 1  to all the kingdoms of the earth. 28:26 Your carcasses will be food for every bird of the sky and wild animal of the earth, and there will be no one to chase them off. 28:27 The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, eczema, and scabies, all of which cannot be healed. 28:28 The Lord will also subject you to madness, blindness, and confusion of mind. 2  28:29 You will feel your way along at noon like the blind person does in darkness and you will not succeed in anything you do; 3  you will be constantly oppressed and continually robbed, with no one to save you. 28:30 You will be engaged to a woman and another man will rape 4  her. You will build a house but not live in it. You will plant a vineyard but not even begin to use it. 28:31 Your ox will be slaughtered before your very eyes but you will not eat of it. Your donkey will be stolen from you as you watch and will not be returned to you. Your flock of sheep will be given to your enemies and there will be no one to save you. 28:32 Your sons and daughters will be given to another people while you look on in vain all day, and you will be powerless to do anything about it. 5  28:33 As for the produce of your land and all your labor, a people you do not know will consume it, and you will be nothing but oppressed and crushed for the rest of your lives. 28:34 You will go insane from seeing all this. 28:35 The Lord will afflict you in your knees and on your legs with painful, incurable boils – from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. 28:36 The Lord will force you and your king 6  whom you will appoint over you to go away to a people whom you and your ancestors have not known, and you will serve other gods of wood and stone there. 28:37 You will become an occasion of horror, a proverb, and an object of ridicule to all the peoples to whom the Lord will drive you.

The Curse of Reversed Status

28:38 “You will take much seed to the field but gather little harvest, because locusts will consume it. 28:39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them, but you will not drink wine or gather in grapes, because worms will eat them. 28:40 You will have olive trees throughout your territory but you will not anoint yourself with olive oil, because the olives will drop off the trees while still unripe. 7  28:41 You will bear sons and daughters but not keep them, because they will be taken into captivity. 28:42 Whirring locusts 8  will take over every tree and all the produce of your soil. 28:43 The foreigners 9  who reside among you will become higher and higher over you and you will become lower and lower. 28:44 They will lend to you but you will not lend to them; they will become the head and you will become the tail!

28:45 All these curses will fall on you, pursuing and overtaking you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the Lord your God by keeping his commandments and statutes that he has given 10  you. 28:46 These curses 11  will be a perpetual sign and wonder with reference to you and your descendants. 12 

The Curse of Military Siege

28:47 “Because you have not served the Lord your God joyfully and wholeheartedly with the abundance of everything you have, 28:48 instead in hunger, thirst, nakedness, and poverty 13  you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you. They 14  will place an iron yoke on your neck until they have destroyed you. 28:49 The Lord will raise up a distant nation against you, one from the other side of the earth 15  as the eagle flies, 16  a nation whose language you will not understand, 28:50 a nation of stern appearance that will have no regard for the elderly or pity for the young. 28:51 They 17  will devour the offspring of your livestock and the produce of your soil until you are destroyed. They will not leave you with any grain, new wine, olive oil, calves of your herds, 18  or lambs of your flocks 19  until they have destroyed you. 28:52 They will besiege all of your villages 20  until all of your high and fortified walls collapse – those in which you put your confidence throughout the land. They will besiege all your villages throughout the land the Lord your God has given you. 28:53 You will then eat your own offspring, 21  the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you, because of the severity of the siege 22  by which your enemies will constrict you. 28:54 The man among you who is by nature tender and sensitive will turn against his brother, his beloved wife, and his remaining children. 28:55 He will withhold from all of them his children’s flesh that he is eating (since there is nothing else left), because of the severity of the siege by which your enemy will constrict 23  you in your villages. 28:56 Likewise, the most 24  tender and delicate of your women, who would never think of putting even the sole of her foot on the ground because of her daintiness, 25  will turn against her beloved husband, her sons and daughters, 28:57 and will secretly eat her afterbirth 26  and her newborn children 27  (since she has nothing else), 28  because of the severity of the siege by which your enemy will constrict you in your villages.

The Curse of Covenant Termination

28:58 “If you refuse to obey 29  all the words of this law, the things written in this scroll, and refuse to fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, 28:59 then the Lord will increase your punishments and those of your descendants – great and long-lasting afflictions and severe, enduring illnesses. 28:60 He will infect you with all the diseases of Egypt 30  that you dreaded, and they will persistently afflict you. 31  28:61 Moreover, the Lord will bring upon you every kind of sickness and plague not mentioned in this scroll of commandments, 32  until you have perished. 28:62 There will be very few of you left, though at one time you were as numerous as the stars in the sky, 33  because you will have disobeyed 34  the Lord your God. 28:63 This is what will happen: Just as the Lord delighted to do good for you and make you numerous, he 35  will take delight in destroying and decimating you. You will be uprooted from the land you are about to possess. 28:64 The Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of wood and stone. 28:65 Among those nations you will have no rest nor will there be a place of peaceful rest for the soles of your feet, for there the Lord will give you an anxious heart, failing eyesight, and a spirit of despair. 28:66 Your life will hang in doubt before you; you will be terrified by night and day and will have no certainty of surviving from one day to the next. 36  28:67 In the morning you will say, ‘If only it were evening!’ And in the evening you will say, ‘I wish it were morning!’ because of the things you will fear and the things you will see. 28:68 Then the Lord will make you return to Egypt by ship, over a route I said to you that you would never see again. There you will sell yourselves to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.”

1 tc The meaningless MT reading זַעֲוָה (zaavah) is clearly a transposition of the more commonly attested Hebrew noun זְוָעָה (zÿvaah, “terror”).

2 tn Heb “heart” (so KJV, NASB).

3 tn Heb “you will not cause your ways to prosper.”

4 tc For MT reading שָׁגַל (shagal, “ravish; violate”), the Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate presume the less violent שָׁכַב (shakhav, “lie with”). The unexpected counterpart to betrothal here favors the originality of the MT.

5 tn Heb “and there will be no power in your hand”; NCV “there will be nothing you can do.”

6 tc The LXX reads the plural “kings.”

7 tn Heb “your olives will drop off” (נָשַׁל, nashal), referring to the olives dropping off before they ripen.

8 tn The Hebrew term denotes some sort of buzzing or whirring insect; some have understood this to be a type of locust (KJV, NIV, CEV), but other insects have also been suggested: “buzzing insects” (NAB); “the cricket” (NASB); “the cicada” (NRSV).

9 tn Heb “the foreigner.” This is a collective singular and has therefore been translated as plural; this includes the pronouns in the following verse, which are also singular in the Hebrew text.

10 tn Heb “commanded”; NAB, NIV, TEV “he gave you.”

11 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the curses mentioned previously) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

12 tn Heb “seed” (so KJV, ASV).

13 tn Heb “lack of everything.”

14 tn Heb “he” (also later in this verse). The pronoun is a collective singular referring to the enemies (cf. CEV, NLT). Many translations understand the singular pronoun to refer to the Lord (cf. NAB, NASB, NIV, NCV, NRSV, TEV).

15 tn Heb “from the end of the earth.”

16 tn Some translations understand this to mean “like an eagle swoops down” (e.g., NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT), comparing the swift attack of an eagle to the attack of the Israelites’ enemies.

17 tn Heb “it” (so NRSV), a collective singular referring to the invading nation (several times in this verse and v. 52).

18 tn Heb “increase of herds.”

19 tn Heb “growth of flocks.”

20 tn Heb “gates,” also in vv. 55, 57.

21 tn Heb “the fruit of your womb” (so NAB, NRSV); NASB “the offspring of your own body.”

22 tn Heb “siege and stress.”

23 tn Heb “besiege,” redundant with the noun “siege.”

24 tc The LXX adds σφόδρα (sfodra, “very”) to bring the description into line with v. 54.

25 tn Heb “delicateness and tenderness.”

26 tn Heb includes “that which comes out from between her feet.”

27 tn Heb “her sons that she will bear.”

28 tn Heb includes “in her need for everything.”

29 tn Heb “If you are not careful to do.”

30 sn These are the plagues the Lord inflicted on the Egyptians prior to the exodus which, though they did not fall upon the Israelites, must have caused great terror (cf. Exod 15:26).

31 tn Heb “will cling to you” (so NIV); NLT “will claim you.”

32 tn The Hebrew term תּוֹרָה (torah) can refer either (1) to the whole Pentateuch or, more likely, (2) to the book of Deuteronomy or even (3) only to this curse section of the covenant text. “Scroll” better reflects the actual document, since “book” conveys the notion of a bound book with pages to the modern English reader. Cf. KJV, NASB, NRSV “the book of this law”; NIV, NLT “this Book of the Law”; TEV “this book of God’s laws and teachings.”

33 tn Or “heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heaven(s)” or “sky” depending on the context.

34 tn Heb “have not listened to the voice of.”

35 tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 28:8.

36 tn Heb “you will not be confident in your life.” The phrase “from one day to the next” is implied by the following verse.



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